We are off. The trip has begun with beautiful sunny weather, verdant forest-covered hills, and a tiny touch of wind.

Today we entered Canada and stopped near Vancouver for custom procedures and a look at Stevenson Harbour. Fishing boats were tied to their docks, resting after the rigors of the work they do. One floating finger dock sported a “dock shop” offering groceries, fuel, and many other possible treats. Boats need only tie up to the dock outside their door.

Cruising out of Stevenson we encountered a long rock jetty off our starboard side. Swirls of surf and white-winged scoters flew in whistling clouds around the black rocks. Bald eagles lighted there. Soon we heard the distinctive “bark” of the California sea lion. Yet another growl provided the bass layer to the barking sea lions. Steller sea lions, more than twice the size of the California sea lions, lay on the rocks drying their blond fur in the sunlight.

Soon a brilliant yellow pilot boat pulled alongside, and our Canadian pilot boarded to take us through the tight passages ahead in the Georgia and Malaspina Straits. Meanwhile, our expert photo team served up an instructional presentation followed by breakout sessions. These sessions offered small group assistance geared toward various skill levels. Whether using iPhones or DSLRs, everyone came away with a few new ideas for taking better photographs. These photographs are not just exercises in technique. They bring back a flood of memories that we relive over and over after we return home. In addition, Chelsea Leven gave a fabulous presentation on the marine mammals we might encounter along our journey northward.

The rest of the afternoon, we stood on deck in the warm sunlight relaxing and enjoying meeting our travelling companions, who are our community for the next two weeks. It is the perfect way to begin our trip and to shed the stress of our lives. Today we took a deep breath and found ourselves at peace.